Monday, March 17, 2008

Education and Salary

University places in Singapore are much coveted. Statistics in year 2007 attest to this fact: 34,000 applicants vie for 6,600 places among the various faculties in NUS. For NTU and SMU, the ratio of applicants to number of places in the varsity is 35,000: 5,850 and 12,900: 1,500 respectively.

There has been such a surging demand for local university places in Singapore that there will be a fourth university in the pipeline to cater to the demand, and it will be an university offering an alternative mix of subjects and curriculum like soft science, arts, etc although details have not been firmed up.

The red-hot demand for a university education in Singapore is understandable as more and more of its citizens; especially the younger ones are degree-holders. A large proportion of Singaporeans without degrees are continuing their further studies to a bachelor degree through part-time study in, long distance learning with the public and private universities.

The reason for this trend is the belief a degree will earn you more pay, or rather a higher academic qualification will earn you a higher pay.

In the recent years, many degree-holders are already on their way to further advancing their education to a Masters or a Ph.d. MBAs are the hot favourites though they can be costly too.

It is important not to be blinded by the chase for such higher degrees such as MBAs and splurge thousands of dollars to obtain these degrees, only to find that these higher degrees may not benefit one professionally ultimately. It is not common to hear stories of people with a MBA degree jobless or getting lesser pay than expected.

To a certain degree, yes, a higher academic qualification will stand one in good stead in demanding a better pay. It is common for Singapore’s Civil service to peg the pays of its officers with good degrees (such as First Class and Second Class Upper Honours) with higher starting pays than the other degrees or lower qualifications. And who can forget the scholars in Civil Service, who are blessed people, with charmed lives as they have a fast-tracked (‘parachuted’ is the term to use) career? Successful lawyers and medical professionals also earn millions annually.

But as discussed above, is just one half of the equation. There is the other half of the equation to look at.

First the statistics: 66,000 millionaires in Singapore and growing! Another tell tale sign: Advertisements after advertisements run on newspapers daily in these recent years featuring entrepreneurs running forums to teach others the skills to make the first millions towards financial freedom. Yes, more Singaporeans are getting hyper-rich and even many more are learning from the 666,000 people who have made it.

It is obvious that not all of these 666,000 millionaires are people who had sterling academic records; however they had fared much better (in pay) than their counterparts with higher academic qualifications.

Thus, it is not always true that higher academic qualifications will necessary lead to higher pays. The most important thing to achieve high pays and financial freedom is to do something you like and excel in it and most often than not, do not be an employee or be one employee but one who can command passive income too through investing, etc.

In fact, I know of many friends who did not do so well in schools now zapping the streets of Singapore in Mercedes, commanding pays exceeding $20,000 per month all at a young age.

Sometimes, a higher qualification can act as a comfort zone to people, preventing them from venturing out to be an entrepreneur for there are many things to lose if they were to fail.

Sometimes, a dose of luck and perseverance are critical to success too for out of 100 entrepreneurs starting out, 90 would fail.

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